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Rainy Weather Jolts Temecula Valley Wine Industry

Aired 8/21/14 on KPBS News.

Temecula Valley wine growers got a wake-up call from Mother Nature when storms moved through the region Tuesday night.

Temecula Valley wine growers got a wake-up call from Mother Nature when storms moved through the region Tuesday night.

Mason Cooper

Rows of grapevines in the Temecula Valley, Aug. 6, 2008.

More than 40 wineries operate in the Temecula Valley, because the region is arid and that's perfect for growing grapes. Rain usually is limited to the first couple of months of the year, but it also came in August this year.

"I almost felt like I was in Kansas or something. I'm a native Californian and it's very odd that we're getting this kind of weather in August. It's very unusual," said Michael Rennie, co-founder of Leoness Cellars. "And we had thunder, lightning. We actually had some hail that apparently lasted for about 30 seconds."

Rennie is worried the extra moisture will hurt the quality of the grapes still on the vines. Water could change how much sugar is in the fruit or how acidic it is. He says changes linked to the current rainfall could subside if there's no more rain.

Ironically, the region is still suffering from a crippling drought. The dry weather already caused an early harvest for grapes destined for white wine bottles. The valley's red grapes remain in the fields.

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